Dramas

Any Day Now Trailer

Every once in a while a movie gets made that’s quite clearly designed for the express purpose of making everyone who watches it bawl their eyes out. Any Day Now is one of those movies. The first few seconds of its new trailer make it look like it might be a fun, ’70s-set romance about a newly out of the closet gay man learning something about life and love thanks to a new relationship with a free spirit – a manic pixie dreamboy movie, if you will – but once it introduces the drama, it goes full bore with it and just refuses to stop. More than being a simple tearjerker, this one looks like it’s going to leave your tear ducts sore and feeling violated. The basic story is that Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt are a gay couple trying to navigate the murky and prejudiced waters of the ’70s court system so that they can adopt a mentally challenged boy who lives down the hall from them and is being neglected by his crappy, awful mother. I know, right?

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Over Under - Large

The 90s were a dark decade for fun stuff aimed at teens and tweens. Grunge music and gangsta rap ruled the airwaves, and young people were into acting sullen and disturbed. Any entertainment that could be considered kiddie or corporate was rejected outright in favor of culture stuff that was gritty and dark. But, by 1999, change was in the air. The prevailing trends of the decade had run their course, boy bands and Britney Spears started showing up on the radio, and the first movie that attempted to bring back the raunchy teenage sex comedy, American Pie, became a runaway success that launched a long-lived, multi-film franchise. Kurt Cobain was dead, long live Stifler. In 2005 Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale got a lot of attention in the world of indie and art films, much of it due to the performance of its lead actor, a young kid named Jesse Eisenberg. Over the next few years Eisenberg’s fame rose as he accrued another handful of indie credits, and eventually his career hit a peak when he anchored a mainstream horror comedy in Zombieland, and then got to work with one of the biggest directors in the business, David Fincher, on The Social Network. After Eisenberg played Zuckerberg it was official, the guy was a bonafide celebrity. But, despite his fame, one of his earliest films, 2002’s Roger Dodger, still hasn’t been seen by very many people, and very rarely gets brought up even in film geek circles, […]

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Save the Date trailer

Will film audiences ever tire of watching indie romances about twenty-somethings struggling to find love set against the backdrop of their struggling to break into creative fields? Or is there something just so satisfying about wallowing in other people’s struggles and acknowledging that you’re not the only one who’s completely confused about life that we’ll continue to line up for these movies time and time again? Filmmaker Michael Mohan is clearly betting on the latter notion, because his latest project, Save the Date, looks like every romance about confused young people that you’ve ever seen. There are a few big reasons why his work could be a step above the last couple you’ve seen though, a few reasons that look a lot like Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, and Mark Webber. Caplan has been putting in strong supporting performances for years now, so the chance to see her step up and take the lead should be a pleasant one. And Alison Brie, this girl is so beloved that an entire Internet subculture has sprung up around celebrating just how amazing she is. Strong casting there, indeed.

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Over Under - Large

Sidney Lumet’s 1975 tale of a bank robbery gone bad, Dog Day Afternoon, is not only considered to be a high point in the careers of both its director as well as its star, Al Pacino, it’s also considered to be one of the key films that was a part of the New Hollywood movement, which started in the late ’60s and continued through to the blockbusters of the 80s. New Hollywood was all about a generation of filmmakers making films that were artsier, grittier, and more experimental than most commercial fare, all from within the confines of the studio system. But while Dog Day Afternoon and its tale of cross-dressing and violent crimes certainly looks at home under that classification, is it really good enough to be mentioned in the same breath as stuff like Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, or Mean Streets? The early ’90s saw one of the biggest boom periods in the history of sketch comedy mainstay Saturday Night Live. Cast members like Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Adam Sandler, and Chris Farley led the show to probably its most critically successful period since the original cast, and pretty much everyone on the show went on to become a star in film. Out of all of these talented comedians, however, none became quite as successful as Sandler. After starring in Billy Madison in 1995, he was off to the races, earning big paychecks, pulling in big box office dollars, and gobbling up media attention. Some of his […]

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Yesterday it was revealed that actress Kristen Stewart had flown the coop on director Nick Cassavetes. She was supposed to star in his upcoming thriller, Cali, but instead she’s decided that her time will be better spent doing a film called Lie Down in Darkness for Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart). That’s great for her, but what about Cassavetes and the guy she was supposed to be starring opposite, Alex Pettyfer? Don’t cry for them just yet, because it looks like they’ve wasted no time in replacing the Twilight vet. JoBlo has heard that a slightly older, slightly blonder actress, Amber Heard, has stepped in to take her place. Though you may not recognize Heard’s name right away, chances are you’ve seen her in several things and just never connected the name to the face. Recently she’s appeared in things like Zombieland, the Nic Cage masterpiece Drive Angry, and the Johnny Depp-as-Hunter-S.-Thompson disappointment The Rum Diary. Most pertinent to this story though, Heard already has experience working with Cassavetes, as she appeared in his 2006 drug drama Alpha Dog.

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If there’s one thing that seems to be able to provide endless material for indie films to mine, it’s infidelity. There’s no need for special effects, fancy locations, or even big name actors to make a compelling human drama, all you have to do is set yourself up a good, old-fashioned love triangle, get a couple steamy shots of people doing it, and then take things to a place where everyone is crying a lot and yelling at each other. The results are instantly compelling, and instantly relatable to everyone watching. Nobody Walks has a leg up on your typical, indie infidelity movie for a few reasons though. Most apparent is that they actually have sprung for some big name actors. From indie darlings like Olivia Thirlby and Rosemarie Dewitt, to beloved TV stars like John Krasinski and Justin Kirk, to an up-and-comer like India Ennenga (Treme) and an old hand like Dylan McDermott, Nobody Walks is bursting at the seams with actors who you’ll recognize and have probably been impressed by at some point.

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Over the course of its pre-production, The Canyons has established itself as being something of a poster child for modern filmmaking. Besides its casting of a couple of recognizable names, like tabloid star Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen, the film searched for much of its talent through Facebook auditions. And instead of relying on studio backing to raise funds, the traditional way, its writer, Bret Easton Ellis, and its director, Paul Schrader, raised money through a Kickstarter project, that offered up a bevy of ridiculous prizes backers could win. So what have been the fruits of all of their ultra-modern labors? It’s still kind of hard to tell. A two-and-a-half minute trailer has been released, but it doesn’t seem to contain any actual footage from the film it’s supposed to be promoting. Instead, it just gives us a montage of images shot around L.A., set to a Dum Dum Girls song; no Lindsay, no James Deen, no nothing. Despite the film’s apparent tagline of “It’s not The Hills,” this promo looks like it could very much be the credit sequence of some sort of reality show shot in the city.

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Jayne Mansfield

Back in 1996, when Billy Bob Thornton directed Sling Blade, its success seemed like a pretty big opportunity for the actor to change up his career focus and start accumulating awards by sitting in the director’s chair. That didn’t happen, though. Thornton has only made a handful of films since, and none that have come close to being as well-regarded as his first. However, it’s looking like this year could serve as Thornton’s best chance since Sling Blade at accumulating some more awards, because his latest film, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, looks like it’s got all of that good stuff that people who give out golden statues like. It’s a comedy of manners that throws excitable Southerners and stuffy Brits in the same space and examines the ways they chafe against each other, it’s set in the ’60s (so it’s got that oh-so-important element of nostalgia going for it, and there are plenty of period sets and costumes, shot with glowing gold light, which puts you in the perfect mood to squirt some tears at all of its ham-handed drama), and – probably most importantly – it boasts a cast of actors including names like John Hurt, Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, Irma P. Hall, Thornton himself, and many others. These are not untalented folk.

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It was announced back in March that David O. Russell had been attached to direct a Black List script from writer Eric Singer called American Bullshit. Well, seeing as casting has now begun, it would seem like the project is officially a go, but it’s no longer going to be called American Bullshit. Already on board this now untitled drama – which tells the true story of a con artist helping the F.B.I. weed out political corruption – are Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner; and THR is reporting that a deal has just been signed to add an exciting young actress who’s previously worked with Russell into the mix. The Fighter’s Amy Adams is now on board to play Maxine Gardner, the mistress to Cooper’s character, con man Mel Weinberg. Renner, for his part, will be playing an F.B.I. agent. As is the case with many of the more interesting-sounding projects that are chock full of fan favorite actors and creators these days, Russell’s latest is being brought to us by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures.

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John Hawkes in The Surrogate

When you first hear that John Hawkes’ latest movie sees him playing a character whose spine has been left so curved due to a battle with polio that he’s completely immobile and even physically deformed, it sounds like it’s going to be a depressing affair. Is The Sessions one of those hand-wringing dramas that hammers home just how difficult and painful disability is, for two hours straight, and then ends on some sort of bittersweet but life-affirming moment? Not at all. Actually, from the looks of the first trailer, it seems like it’s a lot of fun:

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Over Under - Large

I was only eight  in 1989, but from what I remember it was pretty much the year of Batman and Driving Miss Daisy; two movies that my 8-year-old self was less than impressed by. Perhaps we’ll talk about Batman at a later date, but today I want to talk about Miss Daisy, a movie that won so many awards and got so much critical praise that it made even those of us who had yet to sprout pubes aware of who Jessica Tandy was. The hype on this thing must have been huge to get me to tear my attention away from G.I. Joe and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles long enough to watch a film about a couple of old people driving around, but it did. The other movie I want to look at is from 2008. It’s Clint Eastwood’s acting swan song, Gran Torino. This one was well-liked, from what I can tell, but it didn’t get the hype or attention that I imagined it would once awards season rolled around, and consequently I don’t think as many people saw it as should have. I mean, with this one’s racial themes and its focus on old people you’d think it was a shoo-in for baiting the Oscars into giving it recognition. Perhaps it had too many racial slurs and too much gunplay to get embraced by the intellectual bourgeoisie that make up the Academy though. Give something a little color and suddenly it can’t be viewed as “serious […]

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Over Under - Large

Brokeback Mountain had the highest opening weekend per screen average in 2005, and it went from opening in only five theaters to playing wide all over the world by the end of its run. Then, when award season rolled around, it garnered all sorts of acclaim, getting awards for best picture from multiple outlets, Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director, and it even got recognition from GLAAD for being the year’s most outstanding film. Pretty much it was embraced by everyone as being groundbreaking and important, and it saved Ang Lee’s butt after he pissed everyone off by making The Hulk. Weekend came out just this last September, but you might not remember it because not many people ended up checking it out. By the time it left theaters it had only made a domestic gross of  $484,592. Ouch. And while this movie also got some love from GLAAD, it was ignored by all of the mainstream awards shows like the Oscars and the Golden Globes. A cultural phenomenon it wasn’t.

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Though his older brother Chris Hemsworth jumped a bit ahead in terms of fame factor after starring as Thor in the Marvel Comics movie of the same name, it’s starting to look like younger brother Liam Hemsworth is poised for a comeback. He’s all set to play Gale Hawthorne in the sure to be ridiculously high profile The Hunger Games as well as join forces with a bunch of action movie legends as Bill ‘The Kid’ Timmons in The Expendables 2 coming up in 2012. And, you know what they say in Hollywood (not really), with great notoriety comes great castability, so Hemsworth is now seeing some offers for starring roles coming in as well. According to THR, the young up-and-comer is currently negotiating with Relativity Media to take the lead in their upcoming drama Timeless, which is about a man who is struggling to develop a scientific method of turning back time after the death of his wife. You know what that means fellas: all this one needs is some shots of Hemsworth’s handsome face looking sad, some swelling music, and a declaration of never letting love die in the trailer, and your girlfriend is going to absolutely force you into the theater to see this one.

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Anton Yelchin

Sometime around Cannes last year we reported that Elizabeth Olsen and Dakota Fanning would be starring in a new movie by first time director Naomi Foner called Very Good Girls. It’s a story that Foner penned about a couple of young girls who have made a pact to lose their virginities, who then come into conflict with each other when they fall in love with the same “charismatic street artist.” All these months later it appears that this film is finally gearing up to happen, and there’s some news about who has been cast to play the deadbeat object of their misguided affections. No, it’s not the guy who played Nick from Family Ties like I suggested originally, Foner and company went in a completely different direction. According to a report from Deadline Leningrad, curly-headed manic pixie dream boy Anton Yelchin is in final negotiations to take the role. Those that saw him in last year’s Like Crazy know that Yelchin is no stranger to adeptly playing young love related melodrama, and the kid is just so cheek-pinchingly cute… so I guess this casting was kind of a no-brainer. There’s no telling what Foner is going to be able to deliver as a director, but I now find myself looking forward to this one on the strength of the cast alone. I hope it’s a story interesting enough to deserve so many talented young actors teaming up.

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Director Lasse Hallström’s newest picture, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, is about an eccentric sheik who loves fishing so much he’s willing to pay obscene amounts of money to create a permanent river in the deserts of Yemen, stocked with salmon. It then becomes up to his legal council to find a fisheries expert who can make it happen. And here we have the set-up for a really boring movie. Except, watching the trailer, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen doesn’t seem boring at all. Most of that probably has to do with the fact that the legal council and the fisheries expert are played by Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, two actors with more charm in their fingernails than most people have in their whole bodies. I kind of have big crushes on both of them, so watching McGregor play nervous and proper, and Blunt playing blunt and driven, and seeing the two of them turn banter into romance…well, it all just seems to be too cute for words. Add in Kristin Scott Thomas as a sassy newspaper woman with shady motives, and this may be a movie with too much charm for its own good.

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Much ado has been made about the nudity and explicit sexual content in director Steve McQueen’s upcoming drama Shame. In it, Michael Fassbender plays a compulsive sex addict whose routine of perversion is interrupted when his flighty younger sister (Carey Mulligan) comes calling and crashes at his apartment for a few weeks, and the results are both a little titillating and a little repulsive. That’s understandable and everything, but the thing is, in all of the whispering and hullaballoo about wieners and boobs, I haven’t seen much reported about the fact that Mulligan shows off some of her talent for singing in this film. Which is a shame (pun acknowledged), because not only is she pretty good, but the scene where she performs “New York, New York” kind of becomes a huge moment in the film. Sorry to disappoint the pervs out there, but Shame isn’t all about sex stuff. So, while I have enjoyed the marketing for this film so far, this second full-length trailer played to me like a breath of fresh air. We get a lot of the same images from the first trailer, but this time they take on a whole other tone because Mulligan’s singing is playing over them. And then, once we’ve run through the already familiar images, the trailer ends with a scene of Mulligan finishing her performance, and her and Fassbender sharing a look. What’s really going through the heads of these two basketcases? You’ll have to check out the movie to […]

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

Hoosiers is one of those films that somehow finds a way to strike a chord with nearly everyone who watches it. There are some movies that are just mainstream right down to their DNA. There’s this, there’s The Shawshank Redemption, maybe a Forrest Gump; they get mentioned as people’s favorite movies with far greater frequency than anything else. And I’m not talking about cinema buffs when I say people, I’m talking about your grandma, the guy who works on your car, the grandma that works on your car. You know, regular people.  Since it contains one of the big starring roles of Gene Hackman’s career and it was directed by David Anspaugh, who repeated his success at telling an Indiana sports tale with Rudy, that should probably come as no surprise. Disney is maybe the most mainstream production company in the movie business. From the very beginning they’ve focused on creating wholesome entertainment that the whole family can enjoy together.  In the early 90s one of those attempts at making movies for the whole family was Cool Runnings, a John Candy starring bobsled movie that most people might describe as a “guilty pleasure.” It gets lumped in with other 90s sports movies that Disney made like The Mighty Ducks and Air Bud, movies that you can look back at with nostalgia, but if you were to watch them today would look about as ridiculous as a team of Jamaicans showing up to the Winter Olympics with a bobsled.

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Watching Like Crazy was a frustrating experience for me. The whole time I was watching the film, I felt as if I should have been enjoying it much more than I actually was. Visually, the film is both intimate and gorgeous, kind of like watching a home movie if your dad was a virtuoso filmmaker. The performances are all strong, from top to bottom. But despite all of the obvious talent on the screen, I just couldn’t find myself connecting to the story or the characters as they were crafted. Maybe I’m not much of a romantic, but I found the relationship woes of the main characters Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) to be less than compelling. In fact, they were pretty frustrating to get through. Who were these kids and why should I care that they treat their personal lives like the most important things in the world? We’re not so much introduced to Jacob and Anna as we watch as they’re introduced to each other. The film opens with their meeting in a college course in which Anna is a student and Jacob a teacher’s aid, followed by Anna’s bold decision to leave a note declaring her infatuation under Jacob’s windshield wiper, and the stilted conversation and stolen glances of their first date. The getting-to-know-you sequence is cute, but it doesn’t last long. Soon we’re informed through montage (we’re informed of a lot of things through montage in this film) that the two kids are now very […]

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The teenage years are a time in everyone’s life when their minds are fertile for the seeds of change. A new experience can completely change a teenager’s personality, reading a new book or watching a new movie can radically alter the way that they self-identify. Peter Weir’s 1989 boarding school drama Dead Poets Society is one of those new movie experiences that I’ve often seen held up as a life changing experience. Multiple times in my high school career the movie was shown to my class by teachers trying to inspire a love of learning in the students. I’ve met more than one person bold enough to show me their “Carpe Diem” tattoo, which is the movie’s big rallying cry. In general it just seems that there is something about this film that resonates strongly and sticks with a large portion of the people who see it. Daniel Petrie Jr.’s Toy Soldiers isn’t a movie that’s changed many lives. That’s okay though, I don’t think it was trying to. It’s mostly just an action movie. This one tells the story of a prestigious prep school being overtaken by a group of well-trained, well-armed terrorists, who then hold the student body hostage until the government meets their demands. It’s strange how little this movie is ever mentioned by anyone. It had a cast of young actors including Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton, and Keith Coogan, that were all up-and-coming names back in 1991. It was an explosion packed story about terrorists and […]

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Standing up for the little guy, righting wrongs, trying to force our opinions on an unsuspecting public, that’s what we do here at Over/Under. This week we look to champion a kid’s movie, a movie that I contend is not just one of those dumb camp films, but an underpraised king of modern comedy; 1995’s Disney production Heavy Weights. Of course, you know how it works here. In order for one movie to be propped up a peg, another has to take a fall. For those purposes we’ll take a look at 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a beloved adaptation of a beloved Ken Kesey novel that happens to have a few major flaws that often get overlooked.

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